Sunday, June 22, 2014

View of the Week: On the latest from Capistrano Unified School District

The School year is ending on June 24.       Dr. Farley, the Superintendent that has done so much to stabilize the District, is retiring and the District has selected its' new Superintendent : Kirsten Vital.  It has been a fabulous year for the School District in numerous fronts.

It was also gratifying to see how much progress has been made on the Local Control Accountability Formula (LCAP)  as the funding transformation continue with the passage of Proposition 30.  Although some would argue that the money was a "shifting around", the need to create a sense of stability was absolutely vital which was ever so evident in the sea change seen in Schools after the commotion of the last number of years.

The biggest strength has been the active and vibrant engagement of the Parents.   We here @ "Outsiders" were able to be privy to some wonderful work by the Legislative Advocacy Team of the PTSA (Parent Teacher Student Association) on LCAP and the recommendations the committee filed with the District Leadership as Summer looms:    

Last week the CUCPTSA Legislative Team conducted a study of the current draft of the 2014-15 CUSD LCAP.  Following that meeting on Monday, June 9th, we shared the following comments with Superintendent Farley and his staff and are providing a summary of those comments below for your review.   We acknowledge and thank all involved at the district office for their exhaustive and continuing efforts in completing this first year LCAP.    We look forward to the completion of the LCAP on or before June 30, 2014 and are committed to partnering with CUSD in its successful implementation next year. 
  • Strongly applaud and support the restoral of 180 day school year
  • Stongly applaud and support the reduction of class size at all levels and look forward to seeing this trend continue.
  • Glad to see LCAP outlines how our district is addressing needs and providing services to boost achievement of ELL students.
  • Applaud the addition of VAPA Coordinator!
  • We applaud the reinstatement of Healthy Kids Survey and are excited to see the results of the Ready Set College survey!
  • Excited to see expanded coursework and more CTE pathways and to learn more about exact programs and courses, which will be offered. 
  • Excited to see spending on AVID identified.
  • We are glad to see the district establish a plan and set a baseline to identify at-risk students (academically, socially, and behaviorally) and look forward to seeing more counselors, supervisors, etc. on our school campuses in the future as a result of the development of this plan.
  • We believe that family engagement holds the key to successful students and strong schools.  We applaud any district effort to improve and expand family engagement. We particularly encourage the district to implement the School Smarts Parent Engagement and Leadership Academy.
  • We support actions to enhance online and other communication vehicles, including websites, online surveys, and various digital tools that create two-way conversation and information dissemination between district, parents and community.
  • We ask the district to show a current baseline measurement for metrics and goals.  This may be difficult, but it was unclear as to what baseline would be used for annual measurement of success.
  • Student input was included in stage one of the plan; we would like to see continued student input gathered via “student only” forums not as part of public or school site forums that are inclusive of general population.
  • We ask that the district implement the School SMARTS Parent Engagement program at our schools, which encourages continued participation in school leadership from its graduates.
  • We ask the district for expansion of coursework and more CTE pathways included at the middle school level in the future.
·       Re: Goal 1- we ask the district for an improved counselor-to-student ratio, as it was a common theme in stakeholder input. 
·      Re: Goal 2- we addressed need for additional academic counselors above, but there is a need for additional High School Counselors to address the needs of emotional / social issues. 
·      Re: Goal 3- we ask the district for expansion of the AVID program, and that it be offered to all interested students.
  • In many of the “What actions are performed” sections, it is difficult to identify exact resources and expenditures being utilized for a specific goal.
  • Re: Goal 5 – we ask the district to make two separate goals for Technology and Facilities, for accountability and expenditure clarification.
  • Under Facilities, we would ask the district for a plan to identify “Level 1” or highest priority facility issues that jeopardize student safety, and commit resources to correct.
  • Under Facilities, we ask the district to create a goal and plan to identify funding resources for long term/high dollar improvements in the district.
  • Under Technology, we ask the district to provide a detailed action plan and expenditures related to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD.)

These recommendations--if adopted--will provide a very strong foundation for the School District to continue to be among the leaders in the State and the Nation in thinking ahead and to insure that the interests of the Children always come first.  

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